Although the etiology of chronic pain following trauma is not well understood, numerous retrospective studies have shown that a significant proportion of chronic pain patients have a history of traumatic injury. The present analysis examines the prevalence and early predictors of chronic pain in a cohort of prospectively followed severe lower extremity trauma patients. Chronic pain was measured using the Graded Chronic Pain Scale, which measures both pain severity and pain interference with activities. Severe lower extremity trauma patients report significantly higher levels of chronic pain than the general population (p < 0.001). Their levels are comparable to primary care migraine headache and back pain populations. A number of early predictors of chronic pain were identified, including: having less than a high school education (p < 0.01), having less than a college education (p < 0.001), low self-efficacy for return to usual major activities (p < 0.01), and high levels of average alcohol consumption at baseline (p < 0.05). In addition, high reported pain intensity, high levels of sleep and rest dysfunction, and elevated levels of depression and anxiety at 3 months post-discharge were also strong predictors of chronic pain at seven years (p < 0.001 for all three predictors). After adjusting for early pain intensity, patients treated with narcotic medication during the first 3 months post-discharge had lower levels of chronic pain at 84 months. It is possible that for patients within these high risk categories, early referral to pain management and/or psychologic intervention may reduce the likelihood or severity of chronic pain.
- Chronic pain
- Lower extremity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine